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Chiellini has just strongly disagreed with Man United fans about Maguire

Leonardo Bonucci shouted ‘it’s coming to Rome’ down a camera after Italy’s penalty shootout victory against England in the final of the 2020 European Championship. England’s players certainly did not want to hear from any Italian players after that defeat.

The loss at Wembley was enough without the gloating from Bonucci, but at least Giorgio Chiellini, who started alongside his countryman in the centre of defence throughout that tournament, showed some grace and decorum in victory. Chiellini was classy in his post-match interviews, despite annoying England supporters for bringing down Bukayo Saka earlier in the match.

That was a calculated foul from Chiellini and it was a challenge that any professional would make. Although England’s players already have time and respect for Chiellini, considering his achievements in his career, that feeling would have strengthened this week after he spoke with The Times. The legendary defender reflected on Euro 2020 and he lavished praise on England’s players.

Chiellini said Kyler Walker is an ‘unbelievable’ player and he launched a defence of Manchester United’s Harry Maguire, explaining that he sympathises with the club captain. England’s players will no doubt prefer Chiellini’s compliments to Bonucci’s taunts.

“I am sad for Maguire’s situation because he is a good player,” Chiellini said in the interview. “They require too much of him. Just because they paid £80million for him, he has to be the best in the world every match? It’s not right.

“The value of the market is dependent on many aspects you can’t control. It’s not your fault. Him and [John] Stones are a good duo. OK, Maguire maybe is not Rio Ferdinand but he’s good enough.

“With this situation it’s not helping [England] to do the best. If you want to win the World Cup, it’s impossible to do it with some problems in the key players, and for sure Maguire is one of the key players in the team.”

The reaction to Chiellini’s interview was mixed, to say the least. Maguire endured the most difficult season of his career last term – he was awful – and that means he is currently not the most popular member of the club’s dressing room among supporters.

Maguire started against Brighton and Brentford at the start of the season and United were humiliated in both of those games. Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane have started since and United have won four consecutive Premier League matches.

Gareth Southgate has always trusted Maguire and that explained his selection for England last week, as it was clearly not a decision taken on form. That is a risky strategy from Southgate and Maguire must repay that faith in this month and beyond.

Maguire has lost his starting place at Old Trafford and that’s not because United need him to ‘be the best in the world every match’ like Chiellini suggested, it’s actually because he continues to disappoint with dubious performances in central defence.

His lack of pace is concerning and he can often be caught when playing a high line, leaving space behind the defence for the opposition to exploit. Maguire’s decision-making also needs improving while his reaction time leaves a lot to be desired.

Chiellini is wrong when stating too much is required of Maguire – his club just needs him to perform. That is the bare minimum that is expected at an elite football club, hence why the centre-back has been dropped after failing to please Erik ten Hag.

However, Chiellini is right to compliment Maguire as a ‘good player’, despite the nightmare season he has just endured, as it would be foolish to believe you can become captain of Manchester United and England without being among the best in your position.

Maguire is an excellent centre-back when at his best and he would inevitably succeed should he leave United, but supporters have grown impatient with him after the debacle of last season, which is understandable, given just how consistently poor he was.

Ten Hag’s appointment has returned the good feeling to Carrington and this season is the opportunity Maguire needs to rediscover his best form, otherwise, it may be advisable for all parties involved for the centre-back to move on for pastures new.

Chiellini has not complimented Maguire for the sake of it, but United need to see the player that he possesses the ability to be.

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